Kamisama Dolls – Review
Kyohei doesn’t want to admit it to himself but the series says it clearly: Insanity is reality’s Godmode-Cheat-Code for Kakashi-fights…
Kamisama Dolls did have some success even if the animation was inconsistent and the ending was a disturbing case of having a bad idea but thinking “Why not…?”. A shounen-series that definitely tried to go its own way but ultimately it’s the series itself that keeps it from being the interesting shounen-series it should be.
Synopsis:Kyouhei Kuga is a young man who has left his small hometown to escape from its anachronistic rules and traditions and try a new life at Tokyo as a simple university student. In the past he was a seki, title given to individuals who are able to control the mysterious kakashis. Considered as gods in the small Karakami village, the kakashi are ancient wooden wonders able to perform incredible feats. The escape of a seki named Aki Kuga, old friend of Kyouhei, from the provincial town abruptly brings to Tokyo a handful of other seki who are searching for him. Despite being so far away, Kyouhei is still haunted by the old laws and hatred between the two main families, the Kuga and the Hyuga. – ANN
Sensei’s series of bad decisions regarding love found its high point with her having sex with Aki. No matter how you look at it, Sensei is really the epitome of a bad love-life.
Kamisama Dolls – your usual mecha-shounen-series? Definitely, no! First of all, the pseudo-mechas of this show are out of wood! But it doesn’t burn, really, it’s this alien slime they used on this wood to make these “Kamisama Dolls” that changes everything because now these wooden statues gain telepathy and some other iffy Houdini-tricks like flying! Don’t lament that this isn’t imaginative enough for you because these are still mecha and there’s only so much a mecha can do no matter what he’s made out of.
At this point you probably ask yourself why you would wanna want to have wooden statues that can fly and shoot laser beams – besides making another Star Wars prequel naturally. I don’t know either but there’s a village that has a lot of them in this series. It has a name but this show has a lot of names thrown into the plot and most of them are real tongue twisters so I just call it The Village (great letters and a ‘the’ do wonders in this kind of situations). So, The Village is full of these wooden pseudo-mechas and they are controlled by special people with special powers (read: kids) and we get to see three of them at the beginning.
Kyohei is the sulky brat hearing a tune in his head that doesn’t seem to play in accord with the world around him, depression hits him hard realizing that and Kyohei does what every young man would do when he doesn’t know what to do with his life: he goes to university. Leaving his sheltered life of being special behind he adjusts to society by becoming a wimpy shy fool with the charm of a tomato (his face gets red out of embarrassment – a lot).
So that’s Kyohei and as ‘antagonist’ Aki is introduced, the black sheep of The Village who should be in jail but somehow could break out (a hint: it wasn’t Santa Claus that got him out). Aki, well, he didn’t quite got from life what he paid for and that pissed him off and in an incredibly massive act of sulkiness he swore to himself to never bother with anything again. Instead he went the existentialism-route of questioning what the whole crap of life is all about while not allowing himself to be surprised that it has nothing to do with sugar and unicorns leading him to the decision that he ought to waste his time away getting on Kyohei’s nerves and wondering how life would be like without him doing anything (he’s sort of like a cynic hippie that way).
And the third in the round is Utao, his little sister, now that’s the girl who takes up Kyohei’s old job of managing his pseudo-mecha after he had realized that he wasn’t quite born to be wild in that sense (or so he wants to make himself believe). But there’s a problem: Utao is inexperienced and Stupid (with a big ‘S’, I’m not talking about human terms of stupid here, guys). So you get to see her how she messes things up very often. You’re supposed to laugh about it – don’t, it is not funny. She also has a brother-complex because in the universe of anime exists a special kind of Freudian complex explaining how brother and sister nearly always develop a kind of subconscious form of love (getting on each other’s nerves every day is just the perfect ground for love to bloom in animes).
Ah, and there’s Hibino but she’s sort of a blank slate – with boobs. She is there to be the noob that asks the hard questions like how is a flying wooden statue making any sense – and she has boobs, the animators kindly helped us in that regard not to forget that fact and even the script supports with a few lines our memory not to forget that she has big boobs. Does it matter? Not to us but it matters to Kyohei because she’s his love-interest and we know it. And as cliché as it may seem we know that they get together, it’s only a matter of time. But don’t worry this isn’t a show getting soapy enough to use theatrical words like “destiny”.
There are a ton of other people who also play a role in this show but asking me how important they are I might just advise you to guess each episode who could be how important this episode because it does seem to depend on chance who gets to have a spotlight each week aside from the characters I mentioned. The villain of this show for example is a forgettable politician who wants to globalize the wooden pseudo-mecha. That may sound like a neat idea for a story but it’s never really used in the story as such. There it’s just a sort of excuse for the audience to consider him evil. And the real bad guys, the “evil dudes”, they of course are in The Village and they appear only shortly and practically play no role in this series since the point where they would play a role comes after the end of this series (see the problem: The real villains of the story don’t even play a role in it as far as this series is concerned).
A wise man once said that intelligence doesn’t matter – as long as you’re not stupid. I wish someone would’ve remembered that when Utao was created…
But what happens instead if not “destiny”? An introduction basically, this series is a 13-episode-introduction of getting the action going. The moment when you finally buy into the whole The Village thing… it’s over, simply over. Of course the series couldn’t quite go without having a Schwarzenegger “I’ll be back”-moment at the end. Surely it was one of the greatest mistakes in this series how it just assumed that it would get another season. No, it didn’t just assume, it demanded a second season!
The plot may be full of subplots and there are a bunch of new characters thrown into the mix, even in the tenth episode, but all things considered it’s a slow plot because the plot does so much at once that it has a hard time getting things done. Nearly nothing ends in this series and what seems to “end” might as well be just a halfway-point that gets explored later or it becomes a trifling matter for all the relevance it possesses ultimately (like the politician, that human footnote of the series, who the hell will remember him when thinking back after a few months have passed). As far as I understood what this series wanted to say story-wise essentially was that The Village with its wooden pseudo-mecha was a den of evil. Not only that they have the whole phony Kakashi-business going (while keeping the monopoly as a sort of oligarchy which is essentially anti-capitalistic evil), the people there are also batshit crazy (if you hear that someone’s connected to The Village and wasn’t thinking about moving to Tokyo then that person is simply batshit insane – that’s a good rule of thumb for this setting, believe me). Like I said there are a lot of sub-plots in this series and depending on what you concentrate the message of this series may be for you different but the fact is that there’s no coherent structure of a message behind this but a multitude of them just mentioned without making clear which of them were important and which weren’t. And more than the sensation that the story isn’t finished it’s the feeling of not even knowing what the essential direction of the series is that leads to the lack of satisfaction with this series.
While having a flawed storytelling due to its short length, another thing that takes much of the enjoyment away was the animation – it was bad, really bad. I’m not an expert who sees the tiny details but when even I notice inconsistent styles of drawing people and animations that just feel unnatural and a background-scenery that had a “pencil and ruler”-imagination (meaning it was simply drawn because these guys can draw it without any ideas or style behind it) then there’s definitely something wrong and that’s just another nail added to the coffin of this series named “Blu-Ray/DVD-Sales”.
Let’s just end this review with a serious thought: There won’t be a second season. Shocking, isn’t it? All this endless build-up of a story that’s basically just a teaser for the real action – wasted! Seriously, what kind of bad idea is it to animate such a series that isn’t finished and clearly has a way of being awesome only after having taken its pretty time to build up to that point? That’s what this series is: Too early released. It’s nice for the writer of the series to get an anime despite the fact that the story isn’t finished but I as a viewer want to see a complete story and not just a teaser for something else, even worse the conclusion that I search to know doesn’t even exist! So when my interest resulting out of this anime-series only pays off by me following an ongoing manga/light-novel-series then the whole anime was basically just indirect advertisement for the original series. But that’s a problem already known since for that case animes have created the anime-original endings when the source-material can’t deliver one. Sure, it rarely does a better job than what the source-material does eventually but it’s better than what happens with series like this one.
Kamisama Dolls may have been one of the other better series to follow in the summer-season but in retrospect I would only advise completionists who like the original series to watch this since the concept of this series is just messed up by the illusion of getting a sequel (which is at the point of this review an illusion but you know how it is: say never never). Judged by itself the bad parts outweigh the good and it all leaves ultimately the bitter feeling of not having an ending while having seen a far too long “first act” of a longer story. Without a sequel this series is just a start that doesn’t go anywhere.